2021 Competition

The 2021 NewWorks Choral Composition competition is now open!

The DaCapo Chamber Choir strives to find and present choral music that is challenging and rewarding both for performers and listeners.  In this year’s competition we are seeking new works which are based on texts of substance, matched with music that nuances and extends the impact of the text. 

Composers are encouraged to submit works whose texts touch on issues such as (but not limited to) mutual respect, civility, or peaceful co-existence. Our goal is to engage listeners with the music, and stimulate, perhaps challenge, the mind with texts of substance.  While we certainly wish to make “words sing,” we want to go beyond that and give voice to ideas.  We are inviting submissions that will do that.

About the Competition | Composition Guidelines | Deadline | Prize | Notification | Eligibility | Submission Procedure | Other important notes | Young Composers Reading Sessions | entry form (coming soon) | Previous winners | NewWorks Sponsors

About the Competition

The DaCapo Chamber Choir, founded in 1998, is dedicated to choral music of the 21st and late 20th centuries. The NewWorks competition, as one expression of this mandate, fosters new and engaging choral works by Canadian composers.

For a list of some of the selections previously performed by the choir, please visit our “Previous Seasons”.

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Composition Guidelines

  • the submitted composition should be based on texts of substance, matched with music that nuances and extends the impact of the text; traditional liturgical texts are to be avoided
  • a single work, 4 to 6 minutes in length (i.e. do not submit a work with multiple movements)
  • a cappella SATB; some divisi a2 is possible in all voice parts, but the texture should mainly call for undivided sections; the composition should include some polyphonic writing
  • any language is permitted, but any non-English texts must include a translation
  • submissions must be original compositions; arrangements are not acceptable
  • submissions may not have been published, commissioned, or previously performed
  • entries from previous years are not eligible for resubmission
  • more than one entry may be submitted, but each entry must include a separate entry form and fee ($25 each)
  • the composer’s name must not appear anywhere on the score
  • the copyright for the composition remains with the composer

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  • electronic submissions (PDFs) are preferred and must be received by September 30, 2021 or earlier
  • entry form, fees, and any scores not submitted electronically must be postmarked by September 30, 2021 or earlier

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  • $1,500 plus travel expenses to Kitchener-Waterloo for the winning composer to attend the premiere
  • the winning composition will be featured in one of the main series concerts of the 2022/2023 season
  • to receive the award, the winning composer must commit to attend the dress rehearsal and the premiere concerts (normally this is a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday commitment)

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  • winners will be notified in December 2021, with an official announcement made before December 31, 2021.

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  • Canadian citizen or landed immigrant residing in Canada
  • current DaCapo choir members or Board members are ineligible
  • the winner of NewWorks must wait two years before again submitting a work to the competition

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Submission Procedure

  • scores must be created with notation software or neatly hand-scored. All scores must be in copy-ready format.
    Electronic composition submissions are preferred and will be accepted in PDF format ONLY
  • the composer’s name, and any other identifying marks, MUST be removed from the score
  • a piano reduction should be supplied only where warranted
  • text must appear beneath all staves of choral parts
  • include a copy of the text in its original layout, including the name of the play/sonnet
  • electronic scores must be submitted, in PDF format, to info@dacapochamberchoir.ca by September 30, 2021
  • a completed, signed entry form and $25 entrance fee must be submitted (emailed or postmarked) by September 30, 2021 or earlier. The choir will accept scanned forms and e-transfers (sent to info[at]dacapochamberchoir.ca with password NewWorks2021) or original forms and cheques/money orders, (payable to DaCapo Chamber Choir) mailed to:
    DaCapo Chamber Choir
    PO Box 40035
    Waterloo Square PO
    Waterloo, ON N2J 4V1

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Other important notes

  • please do NOT staple or bind in any way; use separate, numbered, 8.5×11 sheets of paper; portrait, not landscape, orientation
  • do not send recordings
  • incomplete applications will be neither considered nor returned
  • application materials will not be returned
  • the DaCapo Chamber Choir will retain the right to produce the first recording of the winning composition for three years after the competition deadline
  • DaCapo retains the right of first performance for one year (from the date of prize announcement) of any works that are NewWorks winners, honourable mentions, or YCRS selections
  • the DaCapo Chamber Choir reserves the right not to award a prize

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Young Composers Reading Sessions

Composers, aged 25 and younger (as of September 30, 2021) are invited to submit compositions for consideration in our Young Composers Reading Sessions (YCRS). If suitable entries are received, DaCapo will host a public workshop at which compositions will be read by the choir in the presence of the composers. Composers will have opportunity to interact with the conductor and choristers in an effort to continue to refine their compositional craft. Compositions submitted to YCRS may also be entered into the NewWorks competition.

Submission guidelines and procedures are the same as for the competition, but there is no $25 entrance fee.

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The DaCapo Chamber Choir gratefully acknowledges the support of:

  • Wallenstein Feed Charitable Foundation
  • City of Kitchener
  • City of Waterloo

This year, we have the exciting result of a tie for first place.

Jury evaluations have identified two wonderful winning pieces: Storm Birds by Maria Case and I Heard the Bird Cry by Kathryn Rose.

Serendipitously, while composers were required to submit works relevant to an environmental theme, these two winning works also share a specific focus, both taking birds (real or metaphorically) as subject.

Storm Birds ~ Maria Case

Toronto-based Maria Case is a pianist, vocal soloist, conductor and composer. She is Artistic Director of the Annex Singers, now in their 40th season. The text of her Storm Birds is by Toronto poet John Warden. One juror comments that Case’s “jazz-infused style brings a refreshing interpretation of the sentiment expressed in the text, [and that she uses] creative harmonic language that well sets the mood shifts in the text.” The text invites us to “Listen to the breathing world…bruised by stark towers” and takes us to the existential question: “will the birds fall silent even in the deep woods?” This is a deeply provocative text, which according to jurors is set with “real harmonic appeal” and effective “idiomatic gestures.” The music is fresh and engaging, with a delicate, jazz-influenced opening that draws us into the musical story that will blossom into a concluding, rich, eight-part texture on the words:
Is there another story:
of a world, startled by children,
filling the streets and the plazas,
storming the golden battlements,
conquering by song?

I Heard the Bird Cry ~ Kathryn Rose

Kathryn Rose, native of Saskatchewan, is currently studying contemporary sacred choral composition with Paul Mealor at the University of Aberdeen. Her winning entry sets a text by contemporary Welsh-Scottish poet Euan Tait. Rose’s music is “clearly drawing on centuries of choral tradition, very idiomatic though challenging” according to one of our jurors. Another juror comments that the music “pulls the listener in,” and that Rose’s musical motifs, which incorporate vocal slides along with traditional techniques, “are beautiful and deepen the sound of the cry” of the crying bird, which laments the environmental injury suffered by earth. The “gorgeous middle section” (the words of another juror) is a brief, aching moment, setting the words “But oh the sear of perfect beauty!” Jury members also identified the “excellent use of texture” for expressive purposes. The work builds to a glorious eight-part texture at the closing return of the words “I heard the bird cry.” The piece perfectly brings before us the bitter-sweet awareness of the beauty of a world in danger, desperately in need of preservation.